Genetically Friendly People

If you leave the US and drive northwest on the longest road, you’ll see some pretty amazing things in Alaska. If you do the same thing but drive northeast on the longest road, you’ll get to ferry terminal in Sydney, Nova Scotia and drive onto a HUGE ferry for a six hour trip to Newfoundland.

Alaska is so memorable for the scenery and wildlife.

Newfoundland is so memorable for the scenery and people.

Canadians are genetically friendly. Not friendly in that superficial Have a Nice Day friendly, but really, really sincerely friendly as in Welcome to our Country, We’re SO Glad You’re Here. And when you talk to lots of Canadians, and listen carefully, you hear over and over that whilst they know they are a friendly bunch, the folks from Newfoundland are known throughout Canada as being REALLY friendly.

It was a bitterly cold late August wind blowing off the North Atlantic, so cold that once the gas pump was engaged it only made sense to get back in the truck. We were catching up on emails when there was a quiet but firm knocking on Susan’s window. We both looked up and were surprised to see a grandma standing there smiling, wearing a warm wooly sweater and sporting that famous Canadian suntan – pale white everywhere with rosy red cheeks.

Susan rolled down the window and her “Hello” was met with a very full paragraph the essence of which was: I see you have license plates from America and you have a camper, so I guess you’re here on vacation, and I just wanted to say Welcome to Newfoundland, where are you going, how long will you be here, and what will you do? Susan popped out of the truck and the two of them proceeded to have a 10 minute conversation – Grandma literally just wanted to welcome us to Newfoundland and share some ideas of places to visit on the wild west coast.

While this was memorable, it was far from unique. These Newfoundlanders (Newfies we learned can be a bit of a pejorative) were truly the friendliest people we had ever come across and made a lasting impression on our trip.

Some of the best hiking ever in Newfoundland
Canadian National Park Rangers just love to carry bright red Adirondeck chairs kilometers down trails – you see this all over Canada
Qidi Vidi, near St Johns
More great hiking
The Fogo Island Inn – a story of its own
Near the Fogo Island Inn, just not paying $2,200 per night
Historical photo of sealers walking on ice flows with harpoons in search of seals. Represented one of the first cash basis jobs in Newfoundland as everything prior had been barter only. High risk, high reward.
Newfoundlanders are funny people
Open mic night during a Kitchen Party – everyone welcome, some even bring their own instruments. Anything goes and everyone has fun.
Getting screeched in – vaguely recall it entailed reciting an oath paragraph, kissing a cod, and drinking
Dave is a really good listener

More Alaska Stories

We camped alongside the wild and untamed Yukon River in Dawson City, an old gold rush mining town that you can leave a pub at 1 am, take the ferry across the river, walk to your campground, and sit outside at 1.30 am and read the paper – it’s that bright out. The next morning we headed out on the Top of the World Highway, aptly named for there is not a single developed piece of land for 100 miles, the views are 360 degrees, the gravel is decent in most places, and the border patrol outpost is a lonely place to be. So lonely in fact that the US Customs and Border Patrol Officer was more than happy to chat with us for awhile and take a few pics.

We then stopped in Chicken, Alaska, a much larger town with a population in the summer of 24. When the town was settled, the settlers felt quite a bit of state pride and wanted to name the town after the Alaskan state bird. However, none of them could agree on how to spell Ptarmigan, so they named it Chicken.

We camped outside Denali for four days waiting for the weather to clear as we’d heard a story around a campfire that the flightseeing trips were amazing and really put the vastness of Denali into perspective. Here’s a few images from out the window.

This glacier was 26 miles long!
Yes, you’re thinking we hiked up this ridgeline when in fact we’re about 3 miles away in the plane. As close as the pilot wanted to get because fog descends very quickly and he was navigating visually in the 9 passenger single engine plane.

After the mountains it was time to go in search of bears. Hmm, will we see any bears on this trip?

When I go fishing, I always ask Susan to defrost chicken for dinner. These bears didn’t have that issue!

Okay, you’re good, I’ll turn around
I’m a wee bit uncomfortable with the intensity of your eyes
You look a bit more relaxed now, whew!

All of these images were captured sitting in a protected bear blind on the side of a river in the Wrangell National Wildlife Refuge along the Inside Passage. Came across another fisherman:

Sometimes when that fish gets away you just gotta shake it off…

While on the Kenai Peninsula came across a few more bears wandering up and down the river bank.

That’s it – after 4 months in the Airstream and 10,000 miles it was time to head back to Park City

The Last Frontier

They say that the most interesting places are at the end of the longest road. In the summer of 2018, we loaded the Yukon with mountain bikes, kayaks, golf clubs, camping supplies, put little Coco on her happy spot – the expansive dashboard – and hooked up the Airstream for a 10,000 mile, four month camping trip through British Columbia and the Yukon Territory, entering Alaska via the Top of the World Highway and through Chicken, AK. Came down the Inside Passage via the Alaska Marine Highway, a fascinating way to spend a month seeing Alaska from and on the water.

Absolutely amazing scenery, wildlife and people. Truly the Last Frontier.

On the way to Wrangell National Wildlife Refuge, Inside Passage, Alaska
Flightseeing over Denali
Keeping my distance and Coco in the truck
Mother and Child Reunion
Majestic morning dew
The only road to Denali
somewhere along the Inside Passage
Eagle River outside Juneau
Sea Lions near Homer
Whales bubble feeding along the Inside Passage. They encircle a large school of prey fish and blow out at the same time, the extraordinary rush of bubbles forces the school of fish toward the surface and it’s lunch time.